The United States and Sweden will play for the Gold Medal in the 2013 World Juniors, while Radek Faksa and Czech Republic won their game in the relegation round.
Tomorrow the World Junior Championship will end and all of the medals will be awarded. The USA will face off against Sweden at 7 a.m. CT for a chance at the Gold Medal. The game will be broadcast live on the NHL Network.
This game could potentially lead to Sweden getting a double gold medal as they were the winners of last years WJCs. This matchup was not the game that many people felt would be the championship deciding game. Canada, despite its top talent being available, fell in the Semi Finals to a US side that dominated for most of the game.
Sweden ,on the other hand, was considered an outsider for this WJC as they had lost four of their top defenders in the lead up to the tournament, Oscar Klefbom, Jonas Brodin, Hampus Lindholm and Jesper Pettersson were all injured and it meant that the Swedish defensive corps were not as strong as they could have been. The Swedes stepped up to the challenge however and made it to the finals beating the hosts Russia in the Semi Finals.
For some among the Swedish side this has been seen as an opportunity to get revenge on the United States for a defeat several of the players suffered last year in the U18 World Cup. Via Espressen, the Swedes feel that the Americans make a dream opponent for them because of the losses in the U18 World Cup. The Swedes clearly feel very confident with their chances and despite a number of close scraps, shootout victories versus the Swiss and Russia, believe they have an excellent side.
The Swedish team is clearly very talented but also very balanced. In particular its second line of Sebastian Collberg, Elias Lindholm and Dallas Stars prospect Emil Molin have been dominant while their top forwards like Filip Forsberg has struggled. Emil Molin is joint leader of the Swedish team in number of points with two goals and four assists, all on the powerplay, despite this he has received very little attention from both the North American media and his native Swedish media.
The United States have excelled on both the powerplay and the penalty kill with an impressive forward grouping and a good hard nosed defensive unit. Despite the players on the American defence being considered a more defensive orientated group they have really stepped up with players such as Jacob Trouba scoring four goals and four assists over 6 games and top prospect for the 2013 NHL draft, Seth Jones, have seven points through 6 games (1 goal, 6 assists).
Their forward group is even more impressive and led by Johnny Gaudreau and Alex Galchenyuk who have 9 and 8 points respectively through 6 games. Their ability to dominate against a very talented Canadian side was very impressive and their semi final game was probably the best of the tournament so far. John Gibson continued to perform extremely well against Canada and if he can take that kind of performance to the gold medal game it would be very difficult for the Swedes to win.
The two sides are relatively evenly matched though I think the Americans might have a slight advantage. The Swedish forward grouping is well balanced and full of top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft however their defensive grouping is far weaker due to the injuries they have sustained.
The USA on the other hand has really become much stronger throughout the tournament, far more effective as a team and John Gibson has continued to get stronger and stronger. Sweden will want to win a back to back gold medal and take that momentum into the 2014 WJC in Sweden while the USA want to carry on their momentum and win their first gold since 2010.
There were also three games played today: Lativa-Germany, Switzerland-Czech Republic and Slovakia-Finland. Germany beat Latvia 5-2 with 2014 draft eligible Leon Draisatl scoring two goals and assisting on another. Radek Faksa and the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 4-3 though Faksa went pointless through this game. He had two assists throughout the entire tournament. Finland dominated Slovakia racking up a 11-4 victory and ensuring that they came 7th overall in the tournament.